Posts tagged States

U.S. vs. China: Currency and Trade Dispute

Historically, China used the fixed exchange rate for their currency Yuan over almost 50 years. Of course, China has discontinued its inflexible practice from the start of July of 2005. Instead of the fixed exchange rate, they employed a flexible exchange rate system. However, it wasn’t 100% flexible or floating because of the Chinese government’s intervention in the currency exchange market. What the government would do is that they would use their reserves of currencies to ‘manipulate’ or manage the currency exchange rate to be at a certain level. Exchange rate is a ratio between the value of two currencies and it is a method to translate the value of one currency into another.

China armed with undervalued currency and its huge industrial factories and infrastructures, it gains enormous amount of surplus in current account against United States. The surplus in current account means that the country is exporting more than it is importing. Therefore, China is gaining lots of US dollars from the trade. If you look this at the American point of view, US is losing in terms of current account against China. US is importing more than it is exporting. The imbalance in the current account in both cases (surplus and deficit) could create some problems. For deficit in current account, the country will experience in large amounts of payments losing to the foreign country. So US will be losing lots of its payments and interests to China. For surplus in current account, it is considered ‘desirable’ compared to the deficit in current account, however, it could mean that the country is not experiencing the highest possible standards of living. Also, it could be seen as economy’s under-performing. Also, it exerts pressure on the exchange rate to appreciate the currency of the country.

As you could see, the fixed exchange rate could cause a problem of shortage in the currency supply. This would generally push the exchange rate upwards, but the fixed rate block this. Therefore, the shortage in the supply of the currency occurs.

What would have happen if the Yuan got stronger and appreciated? It would decrease the exports of China dramatically. Conversely, it would increase the imported goods to China. This will ‘fix’ the imbalance and lower the surplus in current account against United States. In the point of view of Americans, this will increase their exports to China and decrease the imports due to increase in the price. This would be beneficial for both countries’ balance of payment, however, China refuses to appreciate their currency. It is because the weak Yuan stimulates exports to US and this is the key engine for China’s enormous economic growth. They think that the surplus in the current account is a good thing, however, as it was mentioned there are problems with it also.

In conclusion, China’s currency policy is creating an imbalance in the trade between United States and China. Also, it is creating the imbalance in the balance of payment. It would be idealistic if China gave up their under-evaluation policy. However, it will increase the unemployment rate in China as the exports decrease and the number of workplaces in China decreases. Conversely, this will be beneficial for United States for it will lower the unemployment rate by the increase in exports and increase in the number of workplaces.

Resources:

Council of Foreign Relations – Confronting the China-US Economic Imbalance

Wikipedia – Fixed Exchange Rate

Graph from Triple AAA Reading – Fixed Exchange Rate

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Tax & Fairness

Taxation: A Legal Pickpocketing

Diigo Link: Click Here

The link directs you to the articles written about how taxation and fairness are related to each other and introduces the examples from Australia and United States. The whole 2000 word writing is basically about “the fairness of different amount of taxes being paid by different groups of people.”

If there were to be fixed taxation, the group with low income will have great burden compared to the high income group. So, most of the countries employ progressive, regressive, or proportional taxation to make things ‘fair’ for everyone. In order for the government to be ‘fair’ the government have to ‘unequal.’

The diagram comparing Progressive, Proportional, Regressive Taxation According to the Income.

Progressive taxation basically means higher tax burden on high income group and lower tax burden on low income group. It is ‘unequal’ as high income group must pay more than anyone else, however, many rightest-minded people claim that this is ‘fair’ for the low income group.

Regressive taxation means less taxation burden on high income group, but a higher taxation burden on low income group. The money the government get out of the high income group will be larger than the money from the low income group. However, the percentage income on the lower income group will be higher than the high income group.

Proportional taxation might be the fairest taxation method in my opinion. It taxes everyone according to the taxation percentage. If a government wants to get tax moneys off the tax payers, the government will set a percentage of, let’s say, 5% off the income, the percentage will be applied to all income group. However, there is one drawback to this method. Let’s say that $2000 is the minimum amount of money required to consume necessities such as rice, bread, and ecetera in a year. The people earning below $2000 a year will have difficult time if they were to be taxed, even in a ‘fair’ way.

To protect these people, I believe that some governments are implementing the taxation method hybridizing two kinds of taxation methods. For example, the government can exempt taxation on the money required for people to consume the necessities. And tax on the disposable income.

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US vs. China – Currency Dispute

New York Times: Click Here

BBC News: Click Here

According to New York Times, the Obama administration is pressuring China to stop the devaluation of yuan, a policy that fuels its persistent trade gap with the United States.

Obama administration claims that China is artificially manipulating its currency to boost up its export to US. However, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has denied that its currency is artificially devaluated.

Why are United States and China growling at each other for this issue? It is all about trade: Export and Import.

As many of you know, China is one of the biggest exporters. You may at least have a random product that is made from China. China gets all the ‘income’ or money from exporting its goods to other foreign countries, especially United States. So it is important for China to have yuan to USD exchange rate lower in order to export a lot of their stuffs to United States. It makes their products cheaper, so they gain a great price advantage over United States.

In United States point of view, this could be disturbing to them. Obama administration has promised to make like 2 million job places for its people. However, excessive import from China is one obstacle to their economic recovery. Also, United States have lots of exporting companies that are losing the price competition to Chinese exporting companies. So, Obama administration is pressuring China to raise their exchange rate. Obama administration also fears that China is stealing American jobs.

As for China, there is no way that they are going to reevaluate their currency even if they are artificially manipulating it. The export is the main steam engine of China’s economic development so it will most unlikely give up on the low yuan. For United States, their ‘precious’ money goes into Chinese government’s pocket, which they think it should be used in order to recover their economy. They are importing more than what they are exporting to China.

In conclusion, I don’t think China will ever reevaluate its currency even if they are actually manipulating it. This dispute is just aggravating the US-Chinese relationship.

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Disadvantages of Private Health Care

Economics Help: Click Here

1. Inequality

People who are low in income will have greater burden of medical fees than those with high income. Also, people with high income usually have medical insurance covered by their employing company. But, people with low income usually don’t have a medical insurance covered by their employers.

Children, students, or those with no jobs will not have a medical insurance. Some companies cover medical insurance for the employee’s children, however, majority of companies simple do not because of its expensive cost. So, children or student are vulnerable to injuries or disease as the medical fee will be so expensive for them.

2. Health Care is is a Merit Good and it has positive externalities.

Health care is indeed a merit good. However, in a country with many privatized hospitals, the consumption or usage of medical service is lower than the optimum consumption. So medical market fails due to under-consumption of medical services. So governments should intervene and support the health care.

Also, many people know that health care creates some positive externalities. A good medical system can contribute to a successful economy. An economy will be improved by people being treated quickly/efficiently which will help the improvement of labor productivity. In free-market system, this positive externality is ignored and therefore the health care market fails.

3. It is expensive.

Private hospitals do have motives to make profit out of medical services. You can quote on Adam Smith that all human beings are motivated by private profits. So, usually privatized hospitals charge its patients higher than government-owned hospitals. It is because the medical fee is not supported by the government. Also, they must have marginal profit so they would have raise the medial fee.

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Some Ideas for the Seminar

Seminar Question: : Is capitalism so deeply flawed that all attempts to ensure the public good are doomed to failure?

Definitions:

Capitalism: An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.

Public Good: A good that is non-rivalrous and non-excludable. A good or service that is provided without profit for society collectively.

Examples of Public Good:

  • Health Care System
  • Military
  • Police
  • High Road

Health Care System in North Korea

N Korea healthcare ‘near collapse’: Click Here

Main Point: North Korea’s healthcare system has failed. It does not have medicines in hospitals to cure its patients. Also, it lacks sufficient medical instruments.

North Korea’s health care system charges their people no fees. It is totally free. It is surely a great contrast from United States, which only started to debate whether they should have laws related to health care passed or not. However, there’s a big flaw in North Korea’s medical system. It simply does not have enough medicine and medical instruments to take care of the patients. Virtually, there is no point in going to the hospital because there simply are anything to cure with.

Health Care System in Cuba

Wikipedia: Click Here

Unlike North Korea, Cuba’s health care system is well-developed. It has advanced medical support for its people free of charge. Cuban hospitals are advanced as any other hospitals in United States or Europe. But, they provide medical surgeries with low fee compared to the hospitals in United States or Europe. So it attracted many health tourists for 20 years.

Sum: The example of North Korea’s medical system seems to imply that communist countries cannot provide medical service. However, looking at Cuba’s example, it contradicts to this idea that communism cannot support medical system.

<Pure Capitalism-Mixed System-Pure Communism>

There aren’t countries with pure capitalism or communism in the world. Even North Korea isn’t a pure communist country because it allows South Korean factories to do business in their ‘special economic district.’ Most countries are in the middle part where they mix a little bit of capitalism and little bits of communism.

US, which is the closest to pure capitalism, has failed to support medical services. Its citizens have to pay medical fee on their own. Pure capitalisms always fail to ensure public goods. Socialist (a capitalism but has some aspects of communism) countries such as France has successful medical system. It takes 40% tax on its citizens and use that tax on the public goods. Capitalist countries often have low taxation on its citizens to ensure their economic freedom. However, it makes it difficult for the country to establish a good medical system. As it has low taxation, it’ll be hard to provide government-owned hospitals. Instead, privatized hospitals dominate the medical market of the country and charge extremely high price for its medical service. Even though North Korea would have 100% tax on its people, as its economy is extremely feeble, it does not have any money to do anything. It’ll virtually have no money to establish hospitals and buy medicine even though it taxes its citizens 100%. So public goods can only be supplied when the economy has a firm foundation. However, even though the economy is strong, like US, the tax rate is so low that it cannot support medical services. So it is very important for countries to be communistic when it comes to public goods. However, not so communistic that you end up being like North Korea.

Capitalism is the best thing out there for growing markets ands economy. However, it does not ensure public good to be provided to the people. It is wise for countries to change their economic system to socialist system as soon as they achieved the goal of well found economy by capitalism.

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Debt Time Bomb, Is It an Impending Death of Pax Americana?

<High Public Debt, is it an impeding death of Pax Americana?>

According to U.S. National Debt Clock, United States has approximately 12 trillion dollars of public debt, and the debt is increasing by one hundred-thousand dollars every second. Once I saw this I thought that it was just another phishing website or conspiracy website which tries to fool people with false information. So I thought this specific number was a fake. However, I have mistaken it for a false information. It actually has a data graph from US government’s official website (1).

As you see in the graph, the debt will increase and increase until it is 100% of US’ GDP. It will be not long till it goes over 100%. Now, many people would be seriously concerned about this problem by now. Many people will wonder, “How has the biggest economy in the world got an exponential amount of public debt?” When I have googled this problem, many people posted that the ‘War Against Terrorism’ has caused this. I remember looking at a graph of US public debt skyrocketing right after the year 2001 when the President Bush declared ‘War Against Terrorism.’ Therefore the prolonged exhausting war of Iraq and Afghanistan has certainly been a part of the cause. As the result of these wars, it has debilitated US economy. This could be noticed from the recent news reporting, US dollar fell to 14-year low against the yen.

For this blog post, we will look into following questions about exponentially high public debt: 1) How has US managed this high public debt over 10 years? 2) What is the relationship between this debt and the news “US dollar fell to 14-year low against the yen“? 3) What will happen if US no longer can sustain this burden?

How has United States managed to even ‘function’ as a state with this sky-scrapping public debt? There are several answers to this question. First of all, many countries are ‘giving’ billions of money to United States to support this exponentially high public debt. You might think, “Are those countries stupid enough to give away money to United States for nothing?” However, these countries are obviously not stupid to give away money to United States for nothing. It is because of the inevitable economic structure.

United States has the key currency, dollar, which is used widely around the world to buy, sell, and to settle economic problems. US Dollar is used as official currency or de facto currency in many countries. United States also has the strongest, biggest market in the world. With key currency and strong economy, United States is well trusted in the world. This trust allows US to cover up their public debt by issuing their own security, usually called government bonds. It is a governmental promise that any individual or nation who buys US treasury securities will be payed back in the future.

Basically, United States can borrow money (issue treasury security) based on its credit/trust and pay the debt by this money. So the public debt accumulates as US issue treasury security to countries and repaying the countries with the borrowed money. This creates a ‘vicious circle of public debt.’ Or other might call it ‘the ultimate economic motor that never stops.’ United States is actually enjoying this cycle as they are spending and letting the other countries do the paying.

The countries are in an inevitable structure where they have to buy US treasury. For example, Japan is one of the major foreign holder of US treasury security. Also Japan has the second most US dollar as a foreign country. The reason why Japan bought lots of US treasury security is that Japan’s major exporting country is United States. Japan gets payed in US dollars as they sell their product in US market. However, US manages to ‘take away’ the money by inflating US Dollar. For example, lets say that Japan earned $100 by selling a product in US. However, United States issues another $100 and causes inflation. The $100 Japan earned is now not as valuable as it was before United States issued $100. So Americans are basically spending and spending, and other countries are paying and paying for United State’s spending.

The following is a simplified graph of this accumulation of public debt.

The Pax Americana of spending and spending could come to an end with various factors threatening US economy.

Firstly, US dollar fell to 14-year low against the yen is considerably a big threat. As Japanese Yen has rose and US dollar fell, Japanese exporters are very frustrated as they cannot export their products. So the Japanese government is trying to sell its dollars stored up in the bank to cause depreciation of Japanese Yen. However, if they do this, sharp depreciation of US dollar will occur causing US dollar to value no more than a piece of paper. So the US government is pressuring Japanese government not to intervene in the foreign exchange market.

Counterfeit “Supernote” and the Real Dollar

Secondly, North Korea has printing facilities for printing counterfeit currency called ‘supernote.’ Supernotes are counterfeit currencies that are very difficult to figure out even with latest-technology equipments. Supernotes could be a threat to US dollar’s position as a key currency because it could depreciate the US dollar. I believe that this is the problem that US should be worried about not the nuclear bombs. If North Korea decides to release billions dollar worth of supernotes into foreign exchange market, US dollar will worth nothing in matter of days which is much destructive than the nuclear bomb that North Korea has. If billions of supernotes influx into the foreign exchange market, US dollar will lose its position as a key currency and other currencies such as European Euro or Japanese Yen will replace that position. As US dollar loses its position as a key currency, the United States government would not be able to issue a treasury security to raise the fund.

If United States cannot long sustain the public debt, United States as a nation could go bankrupted. Obviously, United States will not be able to pay the public debt if they cannot issue a treasury security if the dollar loses its position as a key currency. Also there is a possibility of war as World War I and II occurred because of economic reasons.

In conclusion, United States should better stop borrowing money and using the as an economic stimulus package. They should slowly get rid of the deficit spending and adjust their balance in order to decrease exponentially high public debt.

Little Reflection: I personally thought that this blog post was unorganized. I had some understanding of the situation, however, it was not firm nor clear. I actually understood more about the situation as I wrote the blog post. So, I felt this blog post was little bit unorganized in what I wanted to say.

Resource:

(1)GPO Access: US government’s official printing office. It has official data of US budget 2008.

(2) US Department of Treasury: Pie graph about foreign holders of US treasury security

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